Sri Lanka entered the World Twenty20 final for a third time when it beat defending champion West Indies by 27 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method on Thursday after rain ended the semifinal early.
The West Indies was 80-4 in 13.5 overs in reply to Sri Lanka’s 160-6 when play was stopped due to heavy rain and hail. The storm passed, but there wasn’t enough time to sop up the large puddles in the field.
Sri Lanka, which lost to Pakistan in the 2009 final and to the West Indies in 2012, gave itself a third shot at the title with a dominant and spirited team effort under Lasith Malinga, who captained after Dinesh Chandimal pulled out.
Malinga was also in the midst of the action with 2-5 in two overs as he dismissed openers Chris Gayle (3) and Dwayne Smith (17) in the same fifth over. Gayle was bowled off an inside edge while Smith was bowled by a slower ball.
Dwayne Bravo (30) offered resistance but his dismissal just before the stoppage diminished West Indies’ chances, already slim because of a slow scoring rate. The champions’ biggest remaining hope was captain Darren Sammy, but he’d just walked into bat, with them still needing 81 to win off 37 balls.
“Bravo got out at a critical moment but we thought we still had a chance,” Sammy said. “We’ve batted ourselves out of such situations in the past and there was no panic in the dressing room. It would have been a difficult job but anything was possible.”
The West Indies came into the semifinals with a reputation for making quick runs down the order. However, the top-order failure and rain put paid to its hopes of becoming the first team to retain the World Twenty20 title.
Sammy said he was disappointed at the way the match ended. “Maybe the gods wanted Mahela (Jayawardene) and (Kumar) Sangakkara to play another T20 game,” Sammy said about the two Sri Lanka stars who have announced they will not play T20 internationals after this tournament.
Earlier, allrounder Angelo Mathews provided a late burst for Sri Lanka to put up a fighting score after electing to bat. The score was creditable considering Sri Lanka did not dominate the bowling for most of the innings.
Mathews, who came in at No. 6 in the 14th over, smashed 40 off 23 balls with three fours and two sixes to rejuvenate the side. Mathews, who pounded pace bowler Krishmar Santokie for two fours and a six in one over, was out off the last ball of the innings as Bravo pulled off a superb catch at deep mid-wicket, diving forward acrobatically.
Lahiru Thirimanne (44) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (39) helped Sri Lanka recover from a mini collapse, when three wickets fell in the space continued…